Industry-Sponsored Research Week

U Nevada-Reno’s new high-performance computing cluster to draw industry partners

By David Schwartz
Published: August 8th, 2017

A growing number of universities are finding a new way to lure industry to campus for partnerships and collaborations: massive computing power.

The University of Nevada, Reno is one of the latest to invest in that strategy, establishing a new, user-driven high-performance computing cluster that school officials say will boost research capacity and better support the latest research applications such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, computational biology, computational neurosciences, bioinformatics and big data.

The new cluster will offer 30 times more computing power than the university’s existing high-performance system and will mean UNR’s computing infrastructure ranks among the nation’s leading research institutions.

To help drive the new capabilities, the university partnered with Switch, a global technology company and leader in the design and operation of advanced data centers. Switch is providing more than $3.4 million over five years in technology infrastructure support. 

“High-performance computing is critical for modern research and scientific discovery,” UNR President Marc Johnson said. “The impact of this will be multi-dimensional; it will allow for faster analysis and exchange of large scientific datasets. It will contribute to deeper discovery across a range of research disciplines university-wide, and to development of industry partnerships.”

“Making Nevada the most connected state and driving economic development through technology and data analytics are critical priorities that Switch shares with the University of Nevada, Reno,” said Switch executive vice president for strategy Adam Kramer. “This collaborative project will cement the university’s commitment to strengthen its status as a top-level research university and its ability to partner with the private sector.”

Known as Pronghorn, the new research-computing cluster is named after the American antelope, the fastest mammal in North America. It is expected to be available for beta-use later this year and fully implemented by January 2018. It will be centrally managed by the school’s Office of Information Technology, and the university’s Nevada Center for Applied Research (NCAR) will coordinate industry access.

“As we began to talk about this, faculty from across many disciplines came together to say this is what we need,” commented Mridul Gautam, UNR’s vice president for research and innovation. “Increasing our computational and modeling capability will allow faculty to better exchange, analyze and store data, and more effectively collaborate on an international scale through tools such as high-definition video conferencing.”

NCAR will coordinate industry access for research collaborations. NCAR is the applied R&D technology center that oversees fee-for-service contracts with industry.

“Each of the partners behind this initiative understands that investment of their talent or resources in our infrastructure — in this case, our high-end computing infrastructure — will be leveraged in many ways,” Gautam said. “This is a tangible milestone toward this University’s commitment to continue to enhance the research enterprise.”

Source: Nevada Today

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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